Background of Author:
Martin Ford is the founder of a Silicon Valley-based software development firm and has more than 25 years of experience in computer design and software development. He holds a computer engineering degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and a graduate business degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is highly regarded in his field and has written for publications including The New York Times, Fortune, Forbes, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Project Syndicate, The Huffington Post and The Fiscal Times.
Ford is the author of the two books, his most recent Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future (2015) and in ...view middle of the document...
Ford compares this to the story of the boy who cried wolf, but he stresses that eventually the wolf showed up, and he believes that this time its different, and we are heading in the direction of being ultimately replaced by robots in the workforce.
Ford lays out seven economic trends resulting from the transformative role of advanced information technology, including stagnant wages, declining labour force participation, soaring long-term unemployment, diminishing incomes for recent college graduates, and a gigantic leap in part-time work.
The Rise of the Robots
Ford strongly believes that this time is a lot different and I will explore 7 particular themes that Ford has put forward to support this statement.
Acceleration in Technology
First of all, Ford looks at the relentless acceleration in computer technology. He discusses Moores Law, ‘the well-established rule of thumb that says computing power roughly doubles every
eighteen to twenty four months. The worry that the author holds is that we have not taken this information seriously enough and
have not fully assimilated the implications of this extraordinary exponential progress. Ford uses some great everyday examples to explain this extraordinary progress of computers by comparing
it to the acceleration of cars, making it very easy for the everyday reader to understand. He states that the amount of computing acceleration and progress we can expect in the coming years is absolutely mind-boggling.
To add to this Ford expresses his concern over the rapid rate at which computer hardware prices are falling and could let computers quickly displace many jobs, if we reach a threshold where many jobs all require roughly the same computing power.
It is fair to say that machines are taking on cognitive ability, and in a limited sense machines are beginning to think. They’re starting to encroach on the fundamental that sets us apart as a species. Ford highlights that the thing that defines people and has so far allowed us to keep ahead with technology is our ability to adapt, learn and think. Machines in a limited sense are moving into that area now.
The availability of robotic software sends alarms off for Ford. He writes that similar to PC software growth, robots will be developed to handle almost any commercial, industrial, and consumer task imaginable. He mentions various different robots
in his book, but tends to focus on the ROS, or Robot Operating System, developed by Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. What is so worrying about this particular system is that it is open-source and free, meaning that developers can enhance it, providing a market-standard tool that continuously improves for future robot developers. This makes use of robotics
very accessible to virtually anyone, may that be an employer or a corporate business owner.
He makes us think 'could a particular job be done by another smart person if that person had access to a detailed record...